NanoSail-D not seen

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2011 - 00:15:11 UTC

  • Next message: Bill Arnold: "Obs for Jan. 21"

    I attempted to observe NanoSail-D on 2011 Jan 21 at 23:45 UTC, but did not see it.
    My primary purpose was to confirm that the object is visible, and observe its optical
    characteristics: visual magnitude, period of variation (if any).
    My secondary purpose was to obtain positional measurements, to verify the accuracy of the elements
    that have been provided, and provide the basis for orbit determination, if necessary.
    Sky conditions were poor. Using 25 X 100 binoculars, I could see the fainter of my two reference
    stars (mag 8.0), but not comfortably. However, had the satellite reached mag 6 or 7, I should have
    seen it.
    I generated my ephemeris using the latest available elements:
    1 90027U          11021.03111096 +.00000496 +00000-0 +78023-4 0 00033
    2 90027 071.9761 003.6513 0021431 200.5132 159.5103 14.77037263000254 
    The pass was far from ideal, in that I had to compromise between elevation and phase angle. I chose
    AZ 315, EL 21 deg, with phase angle 114 deg.
    The object did not appear within +/-2 minutes of the predicted time.
    I will try again at my next opportunity.
    Site 2701: 43.68764 N, 79.39243 W, 230 m
    Ted Molczan
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